Origin: South and Southeast Asia
Size: Up to 21 ft, with locality and selectively bred varieties as small as 6 ft.
Lifespan: 15-20+ years
Basking Temperature: 90-92 degrees
Cool End Temperature: 76-78 degrees
Substrate: Cypress for juveniles. Paper is acceptable for adults. Coco chip not recommended.
Baby enclosure size: 20” x 10” x 12” – 30″ x 12″ x 12″
Adult enclosure size: Typically 2’ x 3’ x 6-8’. Up to 3’ x 4’ x 10’.
Reticulated pythons are very large snakes and easily reach 16feet or more in captivity, though dwarf and superdwarf varieties may stay much smaller. Normal Reticulated pythons color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. They can be tamed fairly easily, and can make great pets. However, due to their potential size, intelligence, common health issues, and legal requirements, we do not consider these to be appropriate for beginning keepers. A young reticulated python presents an excellent opportunity for an intermediate keeper to grow into an advanced keeper as their snake matures. While dwarf and superdwarf reticulated pythons present a more manageable size, they also present unique requirements of their own, and are still best for intermediate to advanced keepers.
This guide is a brief overview of basic care and minimum husbandry requirements and is not intended as a comprehensive guide to care. Our best advice:
Read, read, read! Studying about your new pet is the key to a long and happy life for them, and years of enjoyment for you.
Enclosures for young reticulated pythons do not have to be long enough for the snake to stretch out fully, but additional space is beneficial. As reticulated pythons mature, they often become more sedentary. Dwarf and superdwarf reticulated pythons frequently retain the semi-arboreal nature of neonates as adults, and benefit from climbing for enrichment. Reticulated pythons should always be kept in a sturdy, escape-proof enclosure with an operable lock. Their enclosure as well as any container they are transported in should be labelled with species, common name, owner, and contact information. A written safety protocol and escape recovery plan should be kept within sight of the reticulated python’s enclosure and accompany the animal when being transported. NC residents should refer to NC General Statutes, Chapter 14, Article 55. Children should always be supervised when handling snakes. Do not handle them while they are in shed or right after meals.
We recommend cypress for young reticulated pythons. Paper can be used for larger animals. We do not recommend coco chip, as it can become stuck in the cheek of the reticulated python where it will cause severe discomfort and stomatitis (mouth rot) if not removed.
HEATING AND LIGHTING
Provide a basking spot at one end regulated to 90-92 degrees. Dwarf and super dwarf varieties seem to prefer a degree or two cooler than mainland pythons. We prefer heat panels as a heat source. Use a thermostat to regulate the temperature with the probe secured directly in the basing spot. Do not guess! Do not use only a thermometer. Overheating can be quickly fatal for your new pet. Night drops in temperature are not recommended. Reticulated pythons do not generally require a UV light, but may benefit from one.
Humidity should be maintained at 60-70%. Place a good quality hygrostat in your python’s enclosure to monitor humidity. Using the correct substrate and misting occasionally is usually sufficient to maintain appropriate levels. Reticulated pythons should not be kept wet, as they are prone to scale rot.
Provide your python with a non-porous, tip-resistant water bowl and change it frequently. Snakes frequently defecate in their water bowl, so frequent disinfection is essential. We recommend F10 Veterinary Disinfectant or original (yellow) Listerine diluted to 10% with water.
Reticulated pythons typically tame well, but they have strong feeding responses. You should study and practice tap training with your python. There are numerous resources available online to show you how to do this, and you should be consistent in practice. Support your python’s body when handling. Do not let them dangle loosely, as the animal may constrict to catch itself should it start to fall. Pythons should not be allowed to wrap around a handler’s neck as they can restrict airways in the process of supporting themselves. Instead, support the animal over one shoulder and under the other arm. Never handle larger reticulated pythons alone. Please study safe handling practices for these animals.
Allow your new snake at least a week to adjust to its new habitat before feeding. Mortal Coil Serpentry supports feeding frozen feeders. Your new pet is already feeding on frozen thawed. Live feeding is not recommended. Warm frozen prey to a natural body temperature (~90 degrees). Present prey with tongs, holding it by the base of the tail if possible, and wiggle gently in front of the snake. Do not handle for at least 24 hours after feeding. Reticulated pythons enjoy poultry in addition to rodents. Larger adults will eat rabbits, small pigs, and whole chickens (feet and beak removed). Strategic feeding on appropriate prey is key to maintaining both health and smaller sizes for dwarf and super dwarf reticulated pythons, but they should never be deprived of food. Obesity is common in reticulated pythons, and leads to serious health concerns which may drastically shorten the life expectancy of the animal.
Hatchlings to 1 year:
1 prey item the approximate girth of the snake once per week. Mice and African Soft Furs are superior to rats of equivalent size for nutritional value.
1 prey item the approximate girth of the snake once every 2 weeks.
2 years and up:
1 prey item the approximate girth of the snake once every 3-4 weeks.
The correct body shape for a reticulated python is essentially round, but muscle definition should be slightly visible.
Pushing – Reticulated pythons, particularly dwarf and super dwarf reticulated pythons, are prone to pushing for a multitude of reasons from inappropriate enclosure size (too small or too large), incorrect temperature, hunger, boredom, and breeding drive. Consult additional resources if you observe your python pushing, but removing the snake for exercise and enrichment is often a good temporary solution. Food should not be the primary solution for pushing, as this will lead directly to obesity.
Stomatitis (Mouth Rot) – Frequently a symptom of pushing, this can also be caused by bedding or other debris lodged in the corners of the python’s mouth. Foreign objects should be removed with tweezers, with the help of an assistant (or two) to hold the snake safely and securely. Consult your veterinarian for treatment.
Scale rot – The first sign of scale rot is white areas where the scales seem to be receding. Scale rot is commonly caused by the enclosure being too wet. It is also frequently caused by stress as a result of improper sanitation, improper enclosure size, lack of hiding area for security, or heat being too high or low. You should confirm that all aspects of your enclosure are optimal first and foremost if you notice the beginning of scale rot, and consult your veterinarian for treatment. We also recommend that you change any python experiencing scale rot to unprinted newsprint or paper towels. Sterilize their environment thoroughly. Clean affected area on snake with chlorhexidine 10% solution. If an open wound is observed, consult your veterinarian immediately.
Respiratory infections – Reticulated pythons are prone to respiratory infections. Unlike with other animals, respiratory infections in snakes are typically a secondary infection, symptomatic of an underlying issue with husbandry or another health concern. Wheezing and mouth breathing are the most common symptoms. Discharge may or may not be present. Respiratory infections require addressing the underlying issue, as well as a course of antibiotics.
Male aggression – Unusually onsetting around puberty, male reticulated pythons are prone to mood changes and defensive behavior. Males can also be triggered by the presence of female pythons who are releasing pheromones. You can prevent this behavior to some degree with additional handling from a young age for males.
Obesity – Obesity is abundantly common in reticulated pythons. They are opportunistic feeders and will eat almost every time food is offered, even when they aren’t actually hungry. Some keepers are under the impression that more food will mean a larger snake, and overfeed intentionally in order to achieve giant sizes. While food intake does have a correlation to overall size of the animal, “power feeding” ultimately leads to fatty liver disease, respiratory and cardiovascular distress, weak bone structure due to accelerated growth, and other issues which adversely affect the animal’s quality of life and longevity. It may ultimately lead to less size attainment in the long run, as an animal at optimal health will achieve optimal growth. Feeding retics appropriately sized meals at appropriate intervals is absolutely critical.